Columns > Published on June 5th, 2017

5 Spiritual Bookstores for Discovery and Enlightenment

Header image via Paradise Found

One of the things I love about the arts is how ridiculously hierarchical they are. Is this art music or popular music? Fine art or street art? Literary fiction or genre fiction? Every single field in the arts has something its snobs turn their noses up at. And if you're like me, it may have taken some time to embrace the fact that you like that thing. Like a lot! Or maybe you continue to read your YA vampire dramas in secret. Your choice. In either case, enter the genre bookstore, your local, highly curated emporium of stuff you like. Today's edition: Spiritual Bookstores.

The first thing to know is a spiritual bookstore is a bookstore first and foremost. Like another favorite genre store, the comic book shop, there are other things to buy, but they should complement, not overshadow, the reading on offer. How many of you have walked into what looked like a perfectly good comic book store only to realize that it was a teenage nerd hangout for playing Dominion or Small World or whatever it is the kids are doing these days? Aargh! Turn tail and run. Crystals and psychic readings are the analog here. I love crystals, but they should be second on my mind after finding a clean copy of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. A perfect spiritual — or some say metaphysical — bookstore is an experience to walk into, delights the senses, and reminds you that despite a regular reading habit you have barely scratched the surface of human knowledge. Once again, you have to spend all your spare cash on books and cool stuff to expand your mind.

Here are a few recommended spots to try.

1. Paradise Found — Santa Barbara, CA

A personal favorite. Need an excuse to go to Santa Barbara, one of the best places in the world? Here you go. This shop is great for a number of reasons: a well-curated book selection, memorably friendly workers, a resident dog, a fantastic children's section, and interesting products made by local artisans. Need a handmade shamanic wand? Well, this is where I got mine. There is also a regular flow of high-profile authors giving readings and workshops

Paradise Found Website

2. Alchemy Arts — Chicago, IL

Billing itself as "The Most Complete Occult and Metaphysical Supply Store on the Face of the Earth," one can certainly expect to find plenty merch here, but it was my go-to spiritual bookstore for many years and I showed up for the books. Also the Goths. There is a resident cat everyone loves and many opportunities to learn about the dark arts. I always enjoyed the small-press publications and pentacle table cloths, which work for both rituals and everyday dining. This lovely old-timey video they produced on how to burn incense on charcoal warms my heart.

Alchemy Arts Website

Image via

3. Lighthouse Bookstore — Boulder, CO

Lighthouse is the secret spiritual bookstore located on the garden level of Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, right under the Ben and Jerry's. Once your mind is blown by the spiritual masters, you can come up for air with some Chocolate Cherry Garcia. A great place to find Buddhist and Yogic texts. Follow up your visit with some meditation at the Boulder Shambhala Center, and you're set.

Lighthouse Bookstore Website

4. New Moon — Kalamazoo, MI

My friends who live in Kalamazoo have nothing but wonderful things to say about this place. And they even have a spiritual bookstore! New Moon is a bookstore and self-described community center offering readings and workshops on everything from Reiki to mindfulness and yoga. There are full moon rituals and wheel group meetings and the whole bookstore looks like someone's house. It's as Midwest as a new age bookstore can possibly get. Can I stay there if I go visit?

New Moon Website

5. Alexandria II — Pasadena, CA

Walk too fast and you'll miss it, but Alexandria II is Lake Street's best asset. It's warm and inviting and has some of the loveliest employees you'll find in the industry. So helpful! This bookstore has a highly curated book selection that I love because I've found really interesting titles here not represented in general bookstores. My big book of herbal medicine traditions, for example. Where else was I going to get that?

Alexandria II Website

So, book friends, this list is obviously not exhaustive. East coast, where are you? It mostly follows my various hometowns because that's how we get attached to genre bookstores. We pass them on the street, look into the window, and something magical draws us in. All spiritual bookstores are not created equal, and everyone has their own favorite flavor. Personally, I love a resident dog, lesser-known spiritual texts drawing on ancient traditions, and high-quality merchandise made by local artisans. And some people want every single selection from Sylvia Browne's oeuvre and nothing more. How about you, readers? Tell me all about it in the comments!

About the author

Stephanie Bonjack is an academic librarian based in Boulder, Colorado. She teaches the relentless pursuit of information, and illuminates the path to discovery. She has presented at national and international library conferences, and is especially interested in how libraries evolve to serve the needs of 21st century patrons. When she’s not sleuthing in the stacks, she enjoys chasing her toddler across wide open spaces.

Similar Columns

Explore other columns from across the blog.

Book Brawl: Geek Love vs. Water for Elephants

In Book Brawl, two books that are somehow related will get in the ring and fight it out for the coveted honor of being declared literary champion. Two books enter. One book leaves. This month,...

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Books That Should Be Box Office Blockbusters

It seems as if Hollywood is entirely bereft of fresh material. Next year, three different live-action Snow White films will be released in the States. Disney is still terrorizing audiences with t...

Books Without Borders: Life after Liquidation

Though many true book enthusiasts, particularly in the Northwest where locally owned retailers are more common than paperback novels with Fabio on the cover, would never have set foot in a mega-c...

From Silk Purses to Sows’ Ears

Photo via Moviegoers whose taste in cinema consists entirely of keeping up with the Joneses, or if they’re confident in their ignorance, being the Joneses - the middlebrow, the ...

Cliche, the Literary Default

Original Photo by Gerhard Lipold As writers, we’re constantly told to avoid the cliché. MFA programs in particular indoctrinate an almost Pavlovian shock response against it; workshops in...

A Recap Of... The Wicked Universe

Out of Oz marks Gregory Maguire’s fourth and final book in the series beginning with his brilliant, beloved Wicked. Maguire’s Wicked universe is richly complex, politically contentious, and fille...

Learning | Free Lesson — LitReactor | 2024-05

Try Reedsy's novel writing masterclass — 100% free

Sign up for a free video lesson and learn how to make readers care about your main character.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: